It looks like the Democrats are really going to get their butts kicked in November. They should get their butts kicked from the left, but since there is no mass electoral party to their left, the voters will either stay home or vote for the right. While I find this distressing, even terrifying, I don’t find it surprising. I wrote here over a year ago, “I believe we are in a radical moment, a time when caution is a guarantee of failure.”
The Obama administration and Democratic congress proceeded with caution, and their unwillingness to demand and push for dramatic change even if they were unable to achieve it has left them looking incapable of ending the recession. Then I wrote last January, “When people really desire change and the Democrats fail to deliver it, voters have nowhere else to turn but back to the Republicans.”
Yet I have friends who agree with me about many other things, but still say you’ve got to pull out all the stops to prevent a Republican take-over of Congress because they will make things much worse. I agree that in the short term there can be very good reasons for voting for the Democrats over the Republicans. That was the case in the 2008 Presidential elections and it remains so now. But, if in the long term putting less repulsive Democrats into office brings about precious little real change as well as the steady strengthening of right wing opposition, it is a long-term strategic disaster.
American progressives have been divided on this question since the 1960’s. The majority have chosen to hold their noses and vote for the Democrats. They’ve criticized those on the left who have refused to join them for making themselves irrelevant to the political process. In fact, some have even blamed those to their left for being at least partly responsible for the long-term ineffectiveness of their decision to support the lesser evil. This last claim has never carried much weight with me because there really aren’t that many of us who are further to the left and we don’t wield that much electoral clout or political power.
I think instead of us joining them, they should join us. I think it is time for those who have been holding their noses and voting Democratic, to admit that their course of action is doomed. There are a lot more of them, they have a lot more clout, money and power than those of us who are a little further to the left. If we joined our less radical friends in voting Democratic it wouldn’t make much difference, but if our less radical friends were to join with us in forming a left-wing political alternative to the Democrats it would have a much bigger impact in the long run.
True, in the short run this would help the Republicans and they will make things worse. But the lesser of two evils strategy appears to produce the same result, and going down that path has resulted in decades of futility. So why not try to build some real power on the left and alter the terms of the political debate in our nation? The current terms will never work for us.
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